October 07, 2010
It's not bad enough that Europe has gone and snatched the Ryder Cup from the United States' hands. Now they're going to be keeping their best golfers over there too?
Word is filtering out of Europe that Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, two of the finest golfers on the planet -- whether they qualify as "better" than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is, frankly, irrelevant here -- will be playing in Europe for more, or even most, of 2011.
Westwood is only a second-place finish from taking over the No. 1 spot in the world from Woods. (Yeah, yeah, never-won-a-major, blah blah -- save it.) But what's more significant than that is that he's actively turning his back on the PGA Tour to play in Europe. Westwood has had his problems with the PGA Tour before, and he's leaving no doubt about his intentions now.
"I don't want to be dictated to by having to go to America to play FedEx Cup when it doesn't really mean that much to me," he said, via EuropeanTour.com. "I think they [the PGA Tour] would like me to go and be a member there, but as of Monday evening [after the Ryder] I became an individual again and I do what's right for Lee Westwood now."
For the record, Jay Busbee loves it when athletes talk in the third person. Beyond the royal Westwood, however, there's Rory McIlroy, who indicated he'll be cutting back on his stateside appearances:
"I will only be playing 25 tournaments in all next year as against 29 on both tours this year," he said via the Associated Press. "I only want to play in tournaments that really mean something and not just turning up to some events because I think I should be there."
On the other hand, Graeme McDowell, the one guy most Americans don't want to see more of, will in fact be playing more in the United States. And why not? Dude's got himself a U.S. Open trophy to show off:
"I won’t be playing as many events in America as, say, Luke Donald and Justin Rose, but I am taking up my [PGA Tour] card," he said via AP. "I had one in 2006 but got injured early in that season and now I want to give it a real try."
What's all this mean? Well, it's pretty simple: There's a slow but perceptible shift in power in the golf world away from the PGA Tour. When some of the world's best opt to dodge those anonymous midwest tournaments, it has to get you to thinking, right?
The PGA Tour has spent so much time wondering what to do without Tiger Woods in the field; perhaps it's time it started thinking about what to do without some other notables.